Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Writer's Platform

By Michelle Gwynn Jones

Much has been said about the need to have a Writer’s Platform. For those who have missed the buzz, a writer’s platform is a way to make yourself known in the industry and to the readers, hopefully before your book is published. Often it consists of a website and/or other presence in the virtual land of cyberspace combined with the real life experiences of speaking engagements, professional awareness and physical networking.

Building a website and launching it on the net is a good place to start. I have spent a lot of time reading the websites maintained by new or unpublished authors. It is often the case a writer takes the first step to developing their platform and never takes the second. Unfortunately so many of these websites are placed on the net by the author who never comes back to work on them again.

This is a missed opportunity. A writer will never develop an audience if the reader stops returning because there is nothing new to read. A website must offer new information in order to keep the attention of the viewer. That does not mean that every page must change every day. What it does mean is that you must find something new to say about once a week. It doesn’t have to be long, just a short blurb such as: Review a recent book that you read or give your opinion on a classic. Discuss a blog that caught your eye on a subject related to writing. Post a short section of your work in progress.

Whatever you choose to write, keep it on point. Remember the reason for a writer’s platform is to present yourself as a professional in the field. Unfortunately sometimes the author of a website forgets that the reason they developed it was to promote themselves as a writer and to showcase their written work. It is fine to have an “About the Author” page where you tell a little of your history, a bit about your significant other and display a picture of your four legged friends. It is not the website to blog about the obnoxious barista behind the counter, the mysterious water gathering in your basement or the constant battle between your cats Montague and Capulet. If you really feel the need to purge your mind of such non-related information then you should start a personal blog.


Helen Smith said...

Hello Michelle

I found you via She Writes. Have a good weekend.

Nancy Hinchliff said...

Michelle, This is a wonderful article...right on point! I started building my platform nearly a year ago when I began working on my proposal for my memoir. I'm still at it. It does take time to keep up with all the social media sites I'm on, my four blogs (one strictly on writing), and the writing sites I frequent as a member.
It is definitely worth it though because I have developed some very supportive friendships in doing so, many of whom are anxious to read my memoir and helpful when it comes to sharing information on the querying and publishing processes.
I stopped by your site as part of Meg's Blogging Ball and so glad I did. I love your post. Thanks.

Shelley Workinger said...

I knew the need to have a writer's platform before my first book was published, but it really was just a place-holder sort of page about the book; it took me awhile to put together the other pieces I wanted to flesh out the site and then to settle into the right niche for my blog. Writers definitely need encouragement and guidance at that stage of development because it felt like a full-time job there for awhile :)

Brenda said...

This is a topic that is near and dear to my heart. I think about it all the time when I am posting, especially as of late as I am buried in the editing process. Great post and reminder to stay on point.

writingfeemail said...

Hi Michelle,
I found your blog through She Writes and am so glad. It is like attending a workshop of writing advice in condensed form. Thanks.

Sue Ann Bowling said...

Just stopped by for the blog ball. My publicity is almost 100% internet, as I can't get out much, but I don't know how much of a platform I've built.

Anonymous said...

Literary agents at the SC Writers Workshop conference last year stressed the importance of a platform as the industry becomes increasingly competitive. I sometimes think it takes a superman to succeed--for we need not only exceptional writing skill but marketing savvy as well.

Carol Apple said...

Good sound advice here. I am not a published writer, just a blogger, but I think of my blog as my workshop for ideas for when I am ready to start subbmitting my work for publication. A professional platform is something I can dream of for the future! Visiting you from the She Writes Blog Hop.

Anonymous said...

I have been working on my website for almost a year and still don't have anything I want to put on the net. This is as hard as writing my novel.

See you at SheWrites